press release
Published: 02 October 2018

Linking together 50 years of flu data

By Natasha Meredith

Linking together over 50 years of flu, infectious diseases and hospital death data will now be possible thanks to a unique resource being developed by researchers at the Royal College of General Practitioner (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre at the University of Surrey.

Simon de Lusignan
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A £786,564 award from the prestigious Wellcome Trust will enable researchers to develop a new database and network of primary care data, which will provide unique insights into changing patterns of infection, chronic disease and health outcomes. Unlike other primary care databases, information on this resource will date back 50 years, allowing researchers to track the evolution of viruses and diseases, and better forecast future outbreaks.

The RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre, led by Professor Simon de Lusignan, has conducted national flu and infectious disease surveillance for over 50 years, helping to inform health policy and how resources are allocated. 

Simon de Lusignan, Professor of Primary Care & Clinical Informatics at the University of Surrey, said:  “I am delighted that we have received this substantial funding from the Wellcome Trust. For health research to advance we need to have access to historic primary care data to identify trends and how certain illnesses evolve – this new resource will help us to do this.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We would not have the immense understanding of disease and illness that we do today without high-quality health research, so it’s really exciting to know that our own data will now be widely available for people to use and learn from.

 “The College’s Research and Surveillance Centre has direct access to hundreds of GP surgeries’ anonymised data, helping us piece together trends in the health of the nation, feed into health service planning and, most importantly, finding new ways to improve patient care.

 “We’re hugely grateful to the Wellcome Trust for granting us this funding, and look forward to being able to share our work with even more researchers and those interested in building a healthcare service that is fit for many more generations to come.”

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